There are valves in the veins that usually block or open the flow of blood through the blood vessels. Because blood flow in the veins is directed from the tissues to the heart, the valves are responsible for preventing venous blood from returning to the veins in the lower extremities.
When the elasticity of the vessel wall decreases and the vein dilates, the valves do not regulate blood flow and a varicose vein develops, which is characterized by stagnation of the venous blood. That is, blood cannot be transported normally from the legs to the heart - it is constantly delayed.
In varicose veins, the superficial veins of the legs turn blue or dark purple, appearing to be lumpy, bulging, and distorted. The varicose vein does not always protrude to the surface as it may be located deep in the tissues of the lower extremities. Because of this, foot pain is often confusing to people as there is no obvious cause for the pain.
Varicose veins should be treated because they can lead to thrombophlebitis, an inflammation of the vein wall. In thrombophlebitis, blood clots form; if they enter the pulmonary circulation, a person can die from a pulmonary embolism in which the blood clot clogs vital blood vessels.
Causes of varicose veins
Varicose veins in the legs occur due to decreased flexibility of the venous wall and valve failure. The following contribute to the development of varicose veins:
- sedentary lifestyle and long-term work. It often occurs in office workers, weightlifters, dentists and surgeons;
- hereditary predisposition;
- women: women are more likely to suffer from varicose veins than men because "female" hormones, estrogens, have a negative effect on the vein wall. grow.
- congenital weakness of the vascular system;
- Klippel-Trenaunay-Weber syndrome, in which abnormal messages are formed between the arteries and veins, contributing to the reverse outflow of venous blood.
Symptoms of varicose veins
Varicose veins can be symptomatic and almost hidden. In the first case, the symptoms of varicose veins are as follows:
- discomfort and painful pain in the lower extremities;
- swelling in the ankle;
- burning or throbbing sensation in the legs;
- convulsions that occur mainly in the evening or at night;
- itching at the site of an enlarged vein;
- rapid fatigue of the legs;
- skin color has changed.
These symptoms become more pronounced in the evening, at the end of the workday, during the warm season, and after prolonged work. With hidden varicose veins, there are no external signs of varicose veins, but there is pain in the legs.
As a general rule, the pain in the lower extremities is severe and located deep in the legs. Pain can often indicate phlebitis (inflammation of the veins) and blood clots. The development of thrombophlebitis is accompanied by an increase in body temperature.
An enlarged vein may explode and bruise at the point where the affected vessel passes. Ulcers can occur on the skin, even after minor skin damage. Ulcers in varicose veins are usually small, superficial and painful.
The risk of phlebitis, thrombosis, and ulcers in the varicose veins of the foot can lead to the formation of small blisters with thin walls on the ankles. These blisters are easily damaged and bleed. Blisters can explode during sleep, which can lead to less bleeding.
Varicose veins of the lower extremities lead to other skin and vascular pathologies:
- lymphadenopathy. An enlarged vein can damage the blood vessels in the lymphatic system that transport and transport toxins and metabolic products. In addition, damage to the lymphatics can lead to lymphedema, in which the lower extremities swell;
- dermatitis, accompanied by itching and rash in the area of varicose veins. The rash is most commonly located on the leg and ankle joint. Dermatitis can cause mild bleeding, skin irritation and infection.
How to treat varicose veins?
If the symptoms of varicose veins are mild, it is sufficient to take preventive measures prescribed by a phlebologist (to treat diseases of the veins). But if varicose veins cause discomfort, such as pain, aesthetic defects, fatigue in the legs, swelling, or discoloration of the skin, therapy is needed that consists of the following methods:
- compression stockings, which moderately compress the legs and veins of the lower extremities so that the blood does not stagnate in them. Compression stockings can help relieve pain and swelling. Stockings should be worn for at least 6 months to relieve symptoms. In addition, wearing tights should be combined with regular physical activity in which the legs are more involved: running, training equipment, cycling;
- radiofrequency ablation. This is a minimally invasive method: a disposable catheter is inserted into a vein that heats up and the vein collapses. As a result, the vein closes and venous blood flows into the heart through healthy veins;
- sclerosing therapy. The doctor injects a drug that converts part of the vein into connective tissue, causing the venous lumen to close and the blood to be transported by adjacent healthy blood vessels;
- surgical methodsinvolving ligation or complete removal of the vein concerned.
How to treat varicose veins in the legs in women?
Treatment for varicose veins does not depend on gender: it is the same in women as it is in men. However, there are characteristics of therapy for pregnant women. Varicose veins in pregnant women increase the risk of obstetric and vascular complications, can lead to unstable pregnancies, and increase the incidence of toxicosis in pregnant women. Therefore, special attention is paid to the treatment of varicose veins in pregnant women.
Surgical treatment is used in extreme cases where varicose veins are accompanied by venous insufficiency and complications such as trophic ulcers or thrombotic pathologies. Microinvasive methods such as sclerotherapy and radiofrequency ablation are contraindicated during pregnancy. In addition, women rarely prescribe hormonal drugs and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs during pregnancy.
The main method of treating varicose veins in women is conservative therapy in the form of compression (compression stockings) in combination with drugs that improve vascular wall nutrition (phlebotropic drugs). If compression therapy is ineffective, doctors will prescribe medications that do not penetrate the placenta and do not affect the fetus.
Complications of varicose veins
Untreated varicose veins can be complicated by trophic ulcers, acute thrombophlebitis, and bleeding from the affected veins.
Trophic ulcers most commonly develop on the inner surface of the leg and above the ankle. The first signs of ulcers are dermatitis: the skin becomes inflamed and itchy. This is followed by single and multiple small painful wounds from which small amounts of pus or inflammatory fluid are secreted.
In acute thrombophlebitis, seals appear on the superficial veins, accompanied by pain and redness along the vein. A patient with acute thrombophlebitis has difficulty walking due to discomfort and foot pain. A thrombotic vein may rupture. This is followed by profuse bleeding, which leads to huge blood loss.
Prevention of varicose veins
You must follow the recommendations to prevent varicose veins in men and women. The most effective tips and methods:
- always prefer physical activity to immobility, for example, climb stairs yourself instead of the elevator if you have to travel 1-2 stops, do not get in traffic and walk;
- watch your weight - being overweight is a provoking factor for varicose veins;
- a mobile lifestyle is the key to preventing varicose veins. However, physical activity should be reasonable. Weight lifting is not recommended because weight lifting puts a lot of pressure on the legs and leads to stagnation of the blood. The best sports for the lower limbs are running, cycling, swimming, aerobics. Choose an activity that affects the lower leg and ankle, such as football or skiing;
- if you have a sedentary lifestyle, get up from your chair every 40 minutes and do a little warm-up: sit down 5-10 times or just walk;
- choose comfortable shoes without high heels, try to walk barefoot as often as possible;
- walk at least 30 minutes a day, at least 3-4 times a week;
- if you have a standing job, wear compression stockings and wear it while working. This tones the veins in your lower extremities so that the blood in them does not stagnate.
If your legs hurt for no apparent reason, you get tired and swollen, and curved blue or purple veins appear on your skin, you may have varicose veins in your lower extremities. Do not delay treatment and consult a doctor for advice and diagnosis.